Figurative Staff – Northern Nguni, South Africa

Staffs in southern Africa were carved with a wide variety of finials, from abstract, geometric forms to animal and human figures. This handsome Nguni staff exemplifies that tradition, presenting a prominent head with wide-set eyes, full cheeks, lifted chin and a simple coiffure. A warm brown patina lends a rich beauty to the portrait. Raised surfaces are lightened with wear, providing highlights that crisply define the carving of the cap-like coiffure and almond-shaped eyes. A subtly raised band at the grasping point provides the sole variation in an otherwise smooth shaft.

 

19th century
Wood, pokerwork
46 ½” l
Provenance: David Petty, London; Kevin Conru, Brussels
Published in The Art of Southeast Africa, Kevin Conru, pl. 42e
#560
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